Sporting a family tradition | CraigDailyPress.com

Sporting a family tradition

Hafey brothers, son take college skills to influence 900 Craig athletes

John Vandelinder

— Driving up to the quaint house located on the corner of Woodbury and Woodland streets, you can see the lights from the big screen television in the family room from the lawn.

As you approach the front door, laughter echoes throughout the house, and, depending on which sporting event is being watched, you might hear some shouting in excitement or groaning disappointment.

The television shows only sports.

Football, baseball, basketball, hockey – it doesn’t matter which.

As long as it’s sports.

This is the house of Steve Hafey.

Recommended Stories For You

Steve, his brother, Tim, and Steve’s son, Kip, religiously get-together to watch sports and tell tall tales of sporting glory.

Each has a role in Craig’s sporting world.

The Hafeys have a direct influence on more than 900 young men in the Craig area each year.

Steve has been the head football official in Moffat County for nearly 40 years. He has been the voice of the Bulldogs – broadcasting Moffat County sports through the airwaves to fans – for more than two decades.

Tim Hafey is the Bulldogs’ new head baseball coach. He may be new to Moffat County, but not to sports.

While Steve was head football coach at Stratton High School, Tim – 13 years Steve’s junior – was the starting quarterback.

Tim also played third base and pitched on Stratton’s baseball team, where he recalls one of the many highlights of his career.

It was in the state quarterfinals.

“I pitched a one-hitter,” he said, “and I lost, 1-0, in 11 innings.”

Tim took his skills to the University of North Colorado, where he earned a scholarship in football and baseball.

He transferred to Westminster College in Salt Lake City because, as he says, “it was a baseball powerhouse.”

He graduated and started in the coaching ranks as an assistant in Grand Junction.

“I knew that after my playing career was done,” he said, “that I wanted to coach.”

Tim took over as baseball coach in Pine Creek, where he led his team to four consecutive undefeated seasons, reaching the state finals three times.

A few years later, Steve married his wife, Fay, and they had Kip.

The family moved to Craig shortly thereafter and brought their sporting expertise with them.

Kip grew up in the footsteps of his family’s sporting passion.

His great-grandfather played baseball and football. His grandfather played both as well, as did his father and uncle. It was common to see Kip on the sidelines, so it was natural he would perform on the same stage as family predecessors.

“I was always involved in something sports-wise,” he said. “Our family has always been involved. It was a given that I would inherit their passion.”

Kip was the starting quarterback and free safety for the Bulldogs his senior season, as well as a pitcher on the baseball team.

“I really thought that I’d get drafted (in baseball) right after high school,” Kip said.

The draft never called, so Kip went to college.

“I got a scholarship in baseball and football to Mesa State,” he said. “My first year, we were second in the state in football and finished in the top 20 in baseball.”

Kip was injured in a baseball game, sliding into second base on a steal attempt.

The doctors found a tumor on his tailbone.

“I had to have 3 inches of my tailbone removed,” he said. “That was it.”

Kip’s playing career finished, he did what the rest of the family had done. He turned to coaching.

A short stint at Palisade High school as a football assistant resulted in a state championship. He left to become baseball coach at Grand Junction Central, where his pitching staff had the lowest earned run average in the state.

“I coached with two guys that I went to Mesa with,” Kip said. “It was a great time there.”

Kip came back to Craig in 1997 as head baseball coach and assistant football coach at Moffat County High School.

Eventually, he picked football as his No. 1.

Kip has led the Bulldogs for six years, this year being the first season Moffat County isn’t ranked in the top 10 in the state.

Meanwhile, Tim was piling up the victories at Pine Creek, as Steve was pacing the football field in his stripes.

Tim became burnt out on the long drives from outside Colorado Springs to Denver for events. He missed the long conversations with his brother involving sports.

His marriage had failed, and it was time for him to come back home.

Home to the sports family.

“Tim needed something to do,” Steve said. “Moffat County needed a baseball coach. It was a perfect fit.”

Steve, Tim and Kip love the games they are part of, but it’s the impact each makes on the athletes they work with that brings them the most satisfaction.

Steve is the rule enforcer on the football field for more than 800 young men each season.

Tim teaches resolve and responsibility to the 25 boys on his baseball roster.

Kip is a father figure to the more than 40 kids on his football team.

“We want to teach the kids responsibility,” Tim said. “We show them work ethic. The work they put in will teach them rules in a game, and in life.”

Steve insists that life isn’t always fair, and one of his jobs as an official is to help the kid’s sort out right from wrong.

“I see kids fighting on the field,” he said. “I step in and let them know I’m always watching. In the game, and further along in life. The field is just a small example of what they will see further down the road.”

In Tim’s words, he is a “laid back” coach.

Kip is not.

“Kip is more of a screamer,” Tim said.

Despite his on-field antics, Kip is focused on being heard by his players.

“I have a chance to reach several young men,” he said. “I want to show them how much of a success they can be in life, from being part of a team.”

Each has a different area in which they interact with athletes, but the three of them have the same goal.

“Success in life comes from working together,” Steve said. “We all love our games, and we love the kids we work with. We want to watch them do things they didn’t know they could do. It’s not just about sports. It’s about turning them into responsible men.”

John Vandelinder can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or jvandelinder@craigdailypress.com